France is the most visited tourist destination in the world, largely due to the magical wonder that is Paris, arguably the most romantic city in the world. Even if the Italian’s would have something to say about that.
France is also the third largest country in Europe. So you won’t be surprised to hear that there is a lot more in terms of cities than just Paris.
Having lived in France for three years, here are my suggestions for where you might want to visit when stopping by.
Predictably, Paris is on this list. How could it not be? From the art of the Louvre to the unmissable Eiffel Tower, the backstreets of Montmarte to the flash of legs (and more!) at the Moulin Rouge – Paris has something to suit all tastes. It’s a particularly special place to visit if you’re in love, wandering arm in arm with your amour to quaint little cafe’s down tiny backstreets. But even if you’re not in love with someone, you’ll fall in love with this city and her charms.
A UNESCO world heritage listed city, you’ll recognise the name for the wine, if nothing else. The Bordeaux region ranks up there as being one of France’s most famous wine producing regions, and so naturally you can occupy your time visiting wineries and getting gently sozzled. Bordeaux is a lot more than just wine though. The city centre didn’t achieve world heritage status by plying the UNESCO folks with wine – it’s a gorgeously pretty city, with river frontage, art, culture and history galore.
The second largest city in France, and the place where the French national anthem is named for, Marseille can be found down on the south coast of France. Here visitors and inhabitants can enjoy a Mediterranean climate and idyllic coastal scenes, nibble on gorgeous food (ok, all of France has this!), explore Roman and medieval ruins and of course, take in art by the bucket load. If that all sounds like too much hard work, then being on the coast means you can also just spend your time visiting beaches, lazing around on the Med or popping from one cute village to the next.
Up in the North West of France, the town of Nantes doesn’t always make its way into lists of top towns in France. Which would be a shame, except it means you get to explore it with slightly fewer crowds than some of the others in my top five. Nantes is the capital of the Loire region, famous in of itself for it’s beautiful river valley, castles, and of course, wine. This is France after all. Don’t forget to try a Muscadet when visiting, it’s the local speciality. Nantes is a special place for lovers of art, nature and all things green – it was named the greenest city in Europe by the EU commission.
The third largest city in France, Lyon is also a UNESCO world heritage site. If you’re a fan of French food (who isn’t?), then Lyon is the place to be, as it’s famous for having some of the best food in France. If you’re not into French food (I won’t judge you), then you can entertain yourself by visiting the Roman ruins, countless Renaissance-era churches and of course, museums and gardens galore. Or, you can get into French food.